Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 10 December 2010

FilmWatch: Dawn or Yawn?

The Voyage of the Dawn TreaderThe film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader gets its official American release today – in Digital 3D, no less.

Depending on which critics you believe, it’s either a very good attempt at returning to the first film’s magic and greatness (the film’s poster hopes/urges/demands that we “Return to Magic. Return to Hope. Return to Narnia”) – or it’s a horrible bore (one critic suggesting that it be renamed “Voyage of the Yawn Treader”). The film garnered a disappointing 54 (out of 100) Metacritic rating, meaning “mixed or average reviews.”

Not known as a great bastion of Christian writers or apologetics, The Washington Post nevertheless had this to say:

“After all, it isn’t every kid’s movie that wrestles with the subject of faith in a higher power, or sin, or the afterlife. And it isn’t every kid’s film that can do it so entertainingly. Sure, that’s heavy stuff if you’re looking for it. But it doesn’t spoil the great, great fun to be had in Narnia – or the magical spell it casts – if you’re not.”

The unapologetically Christian World Magazine’s Megan Basham (an insightful voice – if it’s possible for voices to have sight – in film criticism from a faith perspective) had this to say:

“As a newcomer to the series, director Michael Apted creates a Narnia that feels romantic and alive. From Eustace, Edmund, and Lucy’s swim through a painting, to the appearance of the ship, to the merry banter of its inhabitants, we believe in this fantastical world. And we continue doing so right up until the point the crew leaves the first of the Lone Islands. From there, the waters get a little choppy. As the Dawn Treader sails on to the Island of the Voices where Lucy discovers a magician’s spell book and meets the Dufflepuds, a plot line involving evil green smoke breaks some of the enchantment…. [Novelist C.S.] Lewis had the wisdom to impart morals with a sense of wit and depth. This green mist has neither. Thematically, nothing about it conflicts with the novel’s Christian subtext, but it feels like a didactic tack-on, which, of course, is exactly what it is…. Fortunately, by the time we sail into the sweet waters of Aslan’s country, things are back on track, and Christian audiences may be stunned and grateful to see how the filmmakers reveal the true nature of the great lion. His direct-from-Lewis explanation that he is in our world too and we must learn to know him by another name will be like a spring in the desert for thoughtful parents whose time is often spent in theaters enduring cheap bathroom jokes and even cheaper believe-in-yourself messages.”

Dawn Treader is rated PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action.

Let’s hope the response to this one is good (and profitable) enough for them to start filming The Silver Chair.

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